I’m an absolute expert in productivity and organization. (You caught a glimpse of just how organized I am in my post on decluttering for nerds.) You have probably heard the thing about doing something for 10,000 hours to become an expert in something? I’m surely well past that mark with all the time I’ve devoted to studying, practicing, preparing, and then abandoning different organization techniques. No one as unproductive or disorganized as I am knows more than I do, I’m certain.
That’s okay – because just like minimalism, organization and productivity are not moral goods. But it feels good to be productive and being organized helps me get more done and get more creative, so it’s always something I’m working on.
If you’re like me and you have spent so much time trying to learn how to be productive that you don’t have enough left to actually be productive, then maybe this simple printable will help you too.
Bullet Journaling Background
I love Bullet Journaling, in theory. I just don’t have the hand for making gorgeous pages like those you find on Pinterest or Instagram. You won’t find tips on hand lettering here. (Check out Shelby at Little Coffee Fox for that. She’s amazing and her newsletter is full of beautiful inspiration). What I do have is a computer that knows how to make consistent pages 100% of the time.
Working on my handwriting and drawing and other artistic things are part of the fun, but quite frankly my skills are bad enough that it’s de-inspirational. So the blank page type of Bullet Journaling just doesn’t work for me. I like to use a balance between something that’s already pretty, and getting to practice and enhance my own skills. (If you have no interest in the handwriting/drawing part then you may be more interested in the digital Bullet Journal I used for quite a while before abandoning it in search of something else, despite it being an almost perfect fit for me at the time. Post upcoming.)
The NerdishMom Design
That’s where printables come in. I can make a layout that looks nice before I ever put pen to paper, then draw and doodle in a vain attempt to make it even prettier. The other thing it allows me to do is customize that layout to my own needs – one of the hallmark features of bullet journaling that you can’t get buying pre-made planners. I needed to combine the bullet point aspects of bullet journaling with the time management of time-blocking and the mind-clearing power of the brain dump. So my main day-to-day planner is a two-page spread covering one week, divided into three sections:
- An hourly layout for time-blocking
- A very short section for a few to-do tasks
- A space for any free-form notes at the bottom
The Printables Problem
Of course, typically when a blogger shares their printables with you, you just end up in the same boat. Maybe it’s close to what you need, but not just right. Maybe you’re a morning person, or a working parent with kids in school who has to get up at 5AM just to get out the door in time and you want to include your included your morning ablutions on the time-blocking. Maybe you just hate the colors or fonts on my layout, or maybe you need a wider That’s why I decided that instead of just the PDF version, that I also want to share an editable template, which you can customize to exactly what you need.
The templates are available at Canva.com and basic membership is free. (If you sign up for a membership with this link it will earn me a “Canva credit” to use on premium items for my future designs.) However, I have a Canva Pro membership which is absolutely worth it if you are creating any kind of content on a regular basis. It makes design so easy for those of us who don’t have any kind of background in design, and quite frankly, it’s just fun.
Another resource that I’ve used for several years to help with my own organizer pages as well as in my tutoring work, homeschooling, and a dozen other things is Incompetech. The site is owned by a musician who shares a ton of original creations for use in media projects (like movie scores or podcasts) under a creative commons license, but his site is also home to a graph paper generator which includes a huge number of styles and options, which you can then customize to exactly what you need. And unlike bullet journaling sites which will often sell you a single pdf of dot paper, the stuff you get from Kevin is completely customizable and also in the public domain (ie free and not under copyright which means none of the credit I’m giving is obligatory).
If you’re also the kind of person whose nerdishness totally extends to graph paper and/or free music, you can support Incompetech on Patreon and still save over buying graph paper – not to even get into the music side of things. I’m in no way affiliated with Incompetech, I don’t know Kevin, and I’ve never spoken with him in any way. I’m just a fan who thinks his site is awesome, his work is awesome, he is awesome, and awesome people making awesome products available to everyone deserve to get paid.
Here’s the link to the color version.
Here’s black and white (without decoration).
My public profile where I will save future templates can be found at https://www.canva.com/NerdishMom
For best results: print front and back (duplex along the long side) and check that you have “fit to page” or “stretch to fit” or “print entire image” or whatever your printer dialogue asks. This really applies to all printables. That way even if your printer margins vary slightly, you’ll still be able to fit the whole image at the maximum size.
What about you?
Are you a productivity nerd too? What are your must-have organizational/productivity tools? Are the templates here helpful? How have you modified them? I’m always happy to hear other ideas I hadn’t considered before! Let me know in the comments, or join in the conversation on Discord.